DescriptionOcmulgee (oak-MUL-gee) National Monument is on Macon's eastern limits; take US 80 east from I-16 exit 2 and follow signs. Within the monument's 702 acres are some of the most impressive Native American mounds and archeological remains in the Southeast. Creeks, early and late Mississippi farmers and Paleo-Indian, Archaic and Woodland hunters and gatherers are known to have inhabited the area 17,000 years.
Native American farmers migrated to central Georgia about A.D. 900 and built a large village and ceremonial center on the Macon Plateau. Six of their temple mounds, one burial mound and one ceremonial earth lodge remain. The restored earth lodge, which dates from about 1015, was a meeting chamber. The clay floor, benches around the walls, lower portion of the walls and raised bird-shaped platform have survived.
About 1350 a new village, which archeologists named Lamar, was built 2 miles down the river. Around 1690 the Creek Native Americans built a village, and the Ocmulgee River then marked the southwestern frontier of the Carolinas and Georgia for British colonists. Charleston supported a fur-trading post in the area 1690-1715.
Foot trails connect most of the park's features, and a drive approaches the large mounds. The Opelofa Nature Trail branches off the main walking trail and explores the lowlands of Walnut Creek. The visitor center houses archeological displays and dioramas. The video “Ocmulgee: Mysteries of the Mounds” is shown upon request. An audio tour by cellphone is available.
The annual Ocmulgee Indian Celebration, held at the monument the third weekend of September, attracts one of the largest gatherings of Native Americans in the Southeast. Such activities as dancing and arts and crafts demonstrations are provided. Phone the monument office to confirm the schedule.
Events are held throughout the year. Picnic facilities are available. Daily 9-5; closed Jan. 1 and Christmas. Free. A fee is charged during special events. Phone (478) 752-8257.
GEM DescriptionWithin the monuments grounds are some of the Southeast's most impressive Native American mounds, built by the inhabitants who occupied the area well before American colonization.